May 31

We are on the way…

by in Public Affairs, Social Comment, Travel, Uncategorized



Well boys and girls..Keewatin is on her way home. She pulled out today at 2:46 pm and reached her destination at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River she entered 45 years before to rest for a few days until she starts her journey on the big water, Lake Michigan. As many of you know we had started yesterday but a myriad of little problems made us postpone until today.    It also brought us to the attention of the US COAST GUARD regional office in Milwaukee. The massive media coverage of our failed first attempt brought the scrutiny of the regulators right up to the top chair. To their credit, when I explained who we were, what we were doing and that we had followed procedure they were terrific in helping us to meet their standards, prove it and continue today. They stayed with us over the phone until 10pm last night and continued until we passed inspection at 10am this morning. Permission came through at 1pm and we were off at 2:46! Yesterday we had thousands turn out on a bright, sunny and windy day. Today was cloudy, cold and raining. Even more important it was as still as can be. Marvellous conditions because it virtually eliminated small boats and water craft, there was no wind to interfere with the stability of the traverse through the narrow channel, and it provided a sombre atmosphere for the thousands that turned out all along the river to wave goodbye. Canons roared, cars blew their horns, and all the boats in the marinas blew their sirens and rang bells and alarms.     There were cheers, yells and a fleet of TV trucks with aerials protruding to catch every emotion. It was inspiring. The tug boat crew were also coordinated like a well practiced ballet troop.          A more professional team you would be hard to find. The sailors from Tower Marine were diligent, the consulting engineer Ian amazing and the Police, Fire and EMS that backed us up with crowd and vessel control indispensable. Our next job is to make her ready for the big lakes, which we plan to do over the next 48 hours. Again with the support of the Coast Guard we have to make many changes as the deep water tow is very different for a shallow mud filled lake! We had to put lots of water into ballast bags to drop the bow and raise the stern. Now all of that has to come out. We have doors and hatches to secure, furniture and items not fixed to the deck tied down and a crew to train…

Anyhow…We are into it now and arrival in Port McNicoll is June 23rd at 1:30 pm…

23 DAYS AWAY..The crew there is on top of all the festivities planned…And we here are working for a safe, secure journey!


PS..Today in 1911 TITANIC was launched in Belfast and in 1912 the SS KEEWATIN first entered the Port McNicoll…





25 Responses to “We are on the way…”

  1. From Bill Kokesh:

    Ahoy Captain……..” BIG WHEELS KEEP ON TURNIN,”…. See you soon

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm #
    • From barry McLean:

      Hi Eric,
      Congrads,I am very pleased she is comming home
      And we have you to thank.I will be their when she pulls in.
      I am available if you need me
      Kind regards
      Barry J. McLean

      Posted on May 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm #
  2. From Bill Kokesh:

    Is there a “list” to the port side or are the photos deceiving??

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm #
    • From Eric Conroy:

      There was…It was caused by the bagged water we had to install to put the bow down and get the stern up. Now we have to do the opposite by taking all of the water out!
      Capt. Rick

      Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm #
  3. From Terry Rapsey:


    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:21 pm #
  4. From Rick Josey:

    Can hardly wait to sing her back into PORT.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm #
  5. From Robert Winter:

    Wow … what a milestone this fantastic project has reached (as a project manager I have to think in those terms). In the home stretch, attention to detail … bring er home.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm #
  6. From Clive:

    While I am pleased for you, Eric, I am sad for the people of Saugatuck. Keewatin has been there for so long it’s like she had always been there. For some people she has been there all of their lives!

    When I saw HMCS Haida towed away from Toronto to Hamilton, I felt so sad so I know exactly how they feel.

    On the other hand, Keewatin is coming home to Ontario where she belongs. Coming home, it sounds so strange but it’s true. Home to Ontario Captain Eric? Ontario, make it so.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 9:47 pm #
  7. From Tonya:

    While all of us from Saugatuck shared a little melancholy watching the old girl stream down the river, we are so thankful to The Peterson Family for bringing her here for us and our visitors to enjoy for so many years. She is going home where she belongs. If she had wanted to stay here, she would have. LoL

    We all have our special memories of The Keewatin. My Dad helped bring her into the river in 1967, the year I was born. He once told me they wanted him to live on it and oversee the maintenance but my Mother, VERY pregnant with me and with a 4 year old son, politely declined. I worked giving tours for a couple of summers and so did so many other Saugatuck residents. Like I said, we all have our memories, but she is headed on home now.

    I wish you traveling grace on your journey.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm #
  8. From DP Fairbanks:

    As a Saugatuck area resident who has lived near, driven by, and appreciated the SS Keewatin for 30 years, it seems she has ‘left home’ and will leave a hole. She has lived in our landscape and in our hearts, since 1967, which is a significant part of her 105 years – 60 on the water and 45 docked in our back yard.

    From this perspective, it is marvelous to know she is returning to her first home, after collecting so many admirers at her second home. Many people were moved watching her travel out our long harbour today, and you may see many of us along her journey. A few may even travel to welcome her to her new home in Canada, as its seems fitting.

    This is a grand story and one that is bigger than any one of us – thank you to all who have taken care and who will care for her in the future.

    PS I will find a way to share photos of her “Departure Days”. I also hope to visit her in her new home.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm #
  9. From Val and Stuart Brown:

    So the dream is coming true. Congratualations Eric and well done; you have worked so hard for this. By the way, the Queen has asked me to pass on her thanks for this very special event on her jubilee! We are much amused. Can’t wait to meet her in Port McNichol. Gonna be some party !!!

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm #
  10. From Capt. Bill Lefley:

    Congratulations on the first leg of the move. It was well done and She is in good hands. Will you please publish the departure schedule from the Saugatuck harbor? The kids would like to salute Her from the pier on Saturday morning.


    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm #
  11. From Barry King (Retd Chief of Police):


    You never cease to amaze me with everything you get involved with
    and you always remain so upbeat and never let anything stop you. The strong,sturdy ship that looks so good in these pictures after all these years, is indeed in very good hands.

    It’s been a slice to be able to accompany you on this journey, an excellent example of using the internet to network and generate enthusiasm. Twenty years ago, no one but very close friends would have even known what you were doing, the significance of it or have the ability to experience some of it with you.

    Well done, you will soon be basking in the glow of Port McNichol harbour and a beautiful Muskoka sunset on June 23rd. Hope to share that with you as well.


    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm #
  12. From Sean:

    It really was great watching the move via internet…There were many TV reports as well as the web cams to keep me clicking for more information over the 2 days.

    The big ship sure looked grand moving down the river and I can only imagine how spectacular she’ll look in 23 days and 600 miles from now!

    Can’t wait.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:21 pm #
  13. From E.J. Rath:

    Safe journey home. We are all excited to have the Keewatin heading home to the Port. Looking forward to seeing her here in Huronia.

    Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:34 pm #
  14. From Dave Olszewski:

    Congrats! Great photos! Thanks for sharing! I bet RJ Peterson and people in towns will miss her. I will miss her,too. I hope I will come to Canada and see her and other steamboats. Have a great trip with her!

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 7:28 am #
  15. From David Barton:

    At last, on your way, well done my friend

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 8:54 am #
  16. From Frank Fournier:

    Congratulations Eric on what you have done to date, you are almost there.
    Outstanding accomplishment.

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 9:53 am #
  17. From Jim Thurston:

    What a grand feeling it must have been coming down the river. Was that you at the helm? May the words of that old Irish prayer be with you “may the winds be always on your stern” as you head out into the big lakes. See you in Port on the 23rd.

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 10:12 am #
  18. From MIchel Pelletier:

    Congratulations my friend and smooth sailing ahead !!!

    We are anxious to welcome all of our American neighbours on their visits north to Port McNicholl as they welcomed us to their quaint community of Saugatuck.

    Hope to see you all at the great arrival to welcome her and her grand leader Capt. Rick


    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 11:15 am #
  19. From Kevin Toth:

    From Kevin Toth:

    A big day for the Keewatin:
    The Keewatin Homecoming Commitee is working hard to welcome the Kee back home to Port McNicoll on June 23 2012. It will be a real party, with loads of entertainment including a choir of 300, a home coming for former crew of the Kee and lots for fun and excitemnet for the whole family.
    Plan to join the town of Port Mcnicoll and Skyline in welcoming The Keewatin home!
    look forward to welcoming all on June 23rd
    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 7:43 am Edit #

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm #
  20. From Leslie Stockwood:

    ahoy their matie, congrats on a job well done. As they say in my parts “long may your big jib draw”


    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm #
  21. From John Donahue:

    So Incredibly Happy and Excited for you all, Port McNicoll and Canada for the return of a Great ship and new future !!!

    Posted on June 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm #
  22. From Dave Speed:

    On board as a bellhop summer 63/64, visited the Kee in Sagatuck 2 yrs ago and thought they were wonderful for taking care of the old girl.

    Wish I could be there when she arrives, super memories of our stays in Port McNicoll, 16 years old and unsupervised, wow, wouldn’t happen today.

    Thanks to all for the relived memories. My children laugh now when I tell them where I used to work is a museum!

    Bon voyage Kee!

    Posted on June 23, 2012 at 9:17 am #


  1. 104-Year-Old SS KEEWATIN Departs Douglas - June 1, 2012

    [...] [...]

Leave a Reply